The March issue of The Psychologist, the flagship magazine of the British Psychological Society, includes an article marking the centenary of psychologist Hans Eysenck’s birth. Eysenck, a controversial and very public figure within psychology, would have celebrated this milestone birthday on March 4th 2016. As the article notes,
Hans J. Eysenck (1916–1997) enjoyed an extraordinary life in British psychology, much of it played out in the limelight of public attention. His fame and influence extended beyond the shores of these isles, to encompass the globe. He inspired generations of psychologists, many of whom were enthralled by his popular books that made psychology seem so vital, relevant and even urgent. His was an open invitation: arise from the supine position on the analytical couch, leap out from the comfort of the philosophical armchair, and visit the psychology laboratory – one chapter in Fact and Fiction in Psychology (Eysenck, 1965a) is titled, ‘Visit to a psychological laboratory’. His easy-to-understand causal theories of ‘what makes people tick’ (exposing the inner working of the human clock) were especially fascinating to an inquisitive public. He also courted controversy: his style of advocating change and some of the positions he took, especially on politically charged issues like race and IQ, attracted criticism of his work, and of him.
The full piece can be read online here.
Historian of Science and Emeritus Reader at Lancaster University, Roger Smith, has recently published two books and a journal article. The first book, Free Will and the Human Sciences in Britain: 1870-1910 is a discussion of late Victorian debats on free will, with reference to British Psychology. The second book, Between Mind and Nature: A History of Psychology, is a classic account of the history of psychology. The book chronicles how psychology became the discipline it is today set in the various social, cultural, political, and national contexts. Included in the discussion are major figures in psychology, such as, Freud, Jung, and Pavlov. Smith’s third publication comes in the form a journal article. Titled “‘The sixth sense’: towards a history of muscular sensation”, the article discusses the history of knowledge on the muscular sense. Below are full abstracts:
Free Will and the Human Sciences in Britain: 1870-1910:
From the late nineteenth century onwards religion gave way to science as the dominant force in society. This led to a questioning of the principle of free will – if the workings of the human mind could be reduced to purely physiological explanations, then what place was there for human agency and self-improvement?
Smith takes an in-depth look at the problem of free will through the prism of different disciplines. Physiology, psychology, philosophy, evolutionary theory, ethics, history and sociology all played a part in the debates that took place. His subtly nuanced navigation through these arguments has much to contribute to our understanding of Victorian and Edwardian science and culture, as well as having relevance to current debates on the role of genes in determining behaviour. Continue reading Special Smith-sonian Feature